Nancy Kunoth Petyarr

1934 - 2009


Region: North Eastern Central Australia
Residence: Atneltyeye, Utopia
Country: Atnangkere
Language: Anmatyerr

Nancy Petyarr is one of the noted Petyarr sisters, who are highly regarded as fine painters. Both of her sisters, Gloria Petyarr and Kathleen Petyarr, are well recognised on the international art stage. Nancy was part of the original art movement at Utopia, participating in the batik project in the 1980s. Both her daughter Elizabeth Kunoth and grand-daughter, Genevieve Loy are also painters.

Nancy paints the Mountain Devil Dreaming, also known as the Thorny Devil. She depicts the journey of the little lizard along the dreamline. It changes colour as it travels from dawn to dusk and this helps it to travel undetected. Nancy's paintings are also based on women's ceremonial body paint designs, ''Awelye''; the translation to canvas offering a further aesthetic appreciation of an art tradition grown from one of the world's oldest living cultures.

Nancy Petyarr was involved with the batik project held in Utopia in the late 1970s and into the 1980s including the exhibition of batik silks now in the Holmes a Court collection, Perth. She also created painted and carved wooden sculptures in the 1980s. Nancy began painting with synthetic polymer on canvas when this was introduced by the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) in the late 1980s.


Moscow World Fine Art Fair, Manege, Moscow, Russia
Albany Art Prize, Albany, W.A. Finalist
New Works From Utopia, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Impulse To Paint: The Artists of Iylenty, Utopia, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art
City of Albany Art Prize, Albany, W.A

Achievements, Collections & Commissions

City of Albany Art Prize, Albany, W.A, Finalist

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, The Utopia Suite, 1990
Art Gallery of Queensland, Brisbane
Lauraine Diggins, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth


Brody, Anne Marie, Utopia: A Picture Story, Heytesbury Holdings, Perth, 1990, p.56

Barilo von Reisberg, Eugene, ''Impulse To Paint: The Artists of Iylenty, Utopia'', Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, 2008

McCulloch, Alan; McCulloch, Susan; McCulloch Childs, Emily, The New McCulloch's Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2006, p. 132